Parkston looks to defend Class B state Legion title
Record-wise, Parkston Post 194 may not be as hot heading into this year's state Class B American Legion baseball tournament in Winner. But at 14-11 overall, the defending Class B champs still carry plenty of clout heading into today's first-round...
Record-wise, Parkston Post 194 may not be as hot heading into this year's state Class B American Legion baseball tournament in Winner.
But at 14-11 overall, the defending Class B champs still carry plenty of clout heading into today's first-round matchup with Region 3 representative Lennox. Their game follows the tournament opener between Milbank and Platte-Geddes, which begins at 10 a.m.
Belle Fourche and Flandreau play at 5 p.m. with host Winner-Colome taking on Groton afterwards.
"The clear-cut favorite to me is Parkston, until they get beat," said Winner-Colome coach Tresh Swedlund. "They're the defending champs, they're good every year and until they get beat, they're my favorite."
It's true that Parkston probably does have the credentials to repeat last year's title, which saw the team run amuck through the tournament, scoring more than 50 runs on its way to a 6-1 win over Groton for the championship.
Post 194 returns the defending Class B Legion Player of the Year in lefty pitcher Jeremy Wermers along with a full stable of pitchers to get them through the five-day tournament.
Jared Boehmer is 5-2 on the year, Matt Malloy is 4-1, Brady Nolz is 3-2 and Wermers is 2-2.
"Any of them are ready to throw at any time," Parkston coach Tyler Nolz said. "I feel confident with any of those guys at any time going out there. That's what really helps us is on the third day when people are scrambling for pitching, we've got someone we can count on."
Offensively, Malloy leads the team with .544 average, followed by Trevor Freudenthal at .438, Dan Semmler at .357 with three homers and James Boehmer at .344 with three homers as well.
Winner-Colome may not be as heralded as Parkston heading into the tournament, but at 19-27 on the year, Swedlund feels his team is as seasoned as any. Also, it has beat tournament teams Belle Fourche, Platte-Geddes and Lennox twice each this season.
"I think we've got as good a chance as anybody," he said. "Our record doesn't say anything about what kind of team we have. A lot of them are doubleheaders where we got a lot of kids in and knew we were going to take some losses doing that."
The team also finished second this past spring in the high school season and was fourth in the Class B Legion tourney a year ago, which Swedlund says also could be a big factor in their favor.
"Experience is always a big deal," said Swedlund, who has a few players left over from the team two years ago that finished 26-3 and just missed out on the tournament. "We've always just been short on pitching. This year, we've got the pitching but we're young."
Leading the staff is lefty Jared Donahue, who Swedlund said has been garnering some interest from professional scouts. Just 6-7 on the year, Donahue has an ERA of 2.20 and has lost five games by one run, including three 1-0 decisions.
"You pitch him in the big games and that's what he's there for," Swedlund said.
Offensively, Post 169 is hitting .340 on the year, led by Trent Sherman at .400. Kyle Beck is hitting .368 on the year, and Chris Sherman, the Big Stick winner from last year's Class B tournament, is hitting .365.
Platte-Geddes comes into the tournament on a roll with a 19-5 record. Head coach Jeff Kuiper's team beat Howard, Miller-Wessington and Chamberlain twice in Region 5B to reach state.
Kuiper admittedly doesn't know much about the team P-G is facing, other than the fact that Milbank has a storied tradition in Legion baseball.
"They're always a good team," Kuiper said. "I haven't heard much about this year's team, but they always have a good program."
P-G has played five of the seven teams in the tournament, but hasn't faced Milbank or Flandreau. Against Winner-Colome, P-G went 2-2, it beat Groton and Parkston and lost to Belle Fourche and Lennox.
Kuiper said pitching has been the biggest strength for his club this season.
"Our pitchers keep us in the game it seems like. That's how we get through games," Kuiper acknowledged.
P-G has a strong staff in Austin Ringling, Myles Kuiper, Kyle Millar and Hayden Kuiper. Ringling is 5-1 on the season, Myles Kuiper is 4-2, Hayden Kuiper is 3-0 and Kyle Millar has four wins on the mound.
Some of P-G's top hitters include Ringling, both Kuipers and Joel Severson. All are hitting in the .400 or high .300 range, according to Kuiper.